It was a nightmare for some traders at Frenchline in Kumasi when their shops were burnt beyond salvage on Sunday morning.
Not even the swift arrival of personnel from the Ghana National Fire Service could prevent the huge losses.
The fire swept through over 50 metal containers and wooden shops in less than an hour.
Access to the scene was a challenge for the fire fighters.
“There is only one branch from the major road to the scene, so even though we brought five fire engines, only one was able to access the place at a time. Also, there was obstruction all over the place, compounding the challenge of accessibility”, Deputy Ashanti Region Fire Commander, DO1 Rashid Nisawu told media men.
Whilst the fire fighters were doing everything possible to contain the situation, the desperate victims couldn’t leave the job to the fire personnel alone.
They were also using whatever they could lay their hands on to fetch water to help in dousing the flame.
Intermittent explosions were heard from the scene, obstructing the fight.
“There were filled gas cylinders in some of the shops. So, anytime the fire spread to another shop, we could hear an explosion. Also, the shops are too close to each other. These contributed to the quick spread of the fire”, DO1 Nisawu observed.
After 3 hours, the fire was brought under control, but the damage was beyond recovery.
Most of the victims couldn’t control their tears as they began to count their losses.
“I deal in footwear, and all my two shops containing about 1,000 slippers have been burnt. Because of Christmas, I secured a loan to double my wares, but I am back to zero”, Yaw Boakye, a victim indicated.
Though the exact cause of the fire has not been established, some traders are pointing to an electric fault in the shop that the fire started from.
“The fire began from a shop close to mine. The owner sells water and hardly puts her fridge off. We saw smoke coming from the shop, and within a twinkle of an eye, there was an explosion, and the fire quickly spread to the other shops”, Issah Fuseini narrated.
The Ghana National Fire Service has commenced an investigation to ascertain what caused the fire.
The public are however, being advised to be fire safety conscious, especially as we approach the harmattan season.
By Ibrahim Abubakar